Conte Weighs In By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Dec 25, 2009)
Say what you want about him, but Victor Conte- the man who chemically masterminded the success of various world-class athletes while running BALCO- has a unique perspective on this debate surrounding the 'Olympic-style' drug testing that the camp of Floyd Mayweather is insisting on prior to them facing Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao and his camp, are balking at the insistence of drawing blood and the number of times they would be subjected to do so.
Conte believes that blood testing is vital in this instance. But not for the reason everyone thinks.
He emailed Maxboxing,:'In my opinion, blood testing for the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight is more important for detecting possible blood doping or use of EPO than it is for human growth hormone. Measuring hematocrit levels (percentage of red blood cells to total whole blood volume) is very important. For example, even without a positive urine test for EPO, cyclists are temporarily suspended for two weeks if their hematocrit is greater than 50%. An elevated hematocrit can provide a significant advantage to a fighter by enhancing oxygen uptake and utilization. This would benefit a fighter in training and especially during the later rounds of a fight."
Some observers have been suspicious of Pacquiao's recent dominance as he has moved up in weight. 'the Pac Man', who won his first world title as a flyweight( 112-pounds), has knocked out the trio of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and, most recently, Miguel Cotto, in succession. Leading some to believe that he is 'juicing'- meaning he is on a form of steroids or HGH( human growth hormone). But Conte believes that a blood test must be adminstered for the reason stated up above in his email.
"One, I think that increasing hematocrit levels, whether it's by traditional blood-doping or the use of EPO, is of greater benefit to a boxer than the use of growth-hormone," he explained."So growth-hormone is more of an anti-catobolic agent that may help to accelerate the healing of the tissue repair process. But growth-hormone is not anabolic as an anabolic steroid. It's an anti-catabolic agent and I believe that you don't get a very big bang for your buck. I'm not a huge fan of growth-hormone. I don't think it's tremendously beneficial performance enhancing substance.
"EPO, though, in terms of boxing, is absolutely huge, both in training and as well as in a fight, especially during the later rounds."
Conte does have experience in boxing, having worked with Andre Ward and Eddie Chambers, recently, and back in 2003, during the heyday of BALCO, assisted with Shane Mosley in his usage of illegal P.E.D's in his rematch with Oscar De La Hoya. When asked if Mosley was on EPO for that fight, Conte answered,"Yes, he was."
Another factor that is essential is that the tests need to be random in nature.
"Otherwise," he explains,"it's what they call 'announced testing' and I've historically called that 'I.Q. testing'. So to apply that to other sports, it would be like showing up to training camp for Major League Baseball and they test you. That's announced testing. You have to be pretty dumb to show up at training camp or at 'announced testing' and test positive. The clearance time of most of these drugs that are out there are well known."
He also says that for these substances to be utilized at their maximum efficiency, they must be properly cycled and be out of your system by the time competition begins.
"Creams, transdurmals, clear the fastest. Orals, would be next. Water-based drugs- including testosterone- would be next, then the oil-based. So some of these can clear in a matter of hours and days," explained Conte."So if you know when you're going to be tested a week out, you go off the use of oral testosterone, for example, you're going to test negative. So that is really an issue."
Accoring to him,"Traditional testing in boxing, it's basically worthless other than the detection of some types of stimulant, before and after a fight."
The Mayweather camp and Golden Boy Promotions, has insisted- against Bob Arum's wishes- on employing USADA( the United States Anti-Doping Agency) and their methods to monitor both boxers leading into the fight( which is now in serious jeopardy). But USADA's testing is hardly foolproof, as two of Conte's most famous clients, Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery, avoided detection for years from this organization.
"There's lots of loopholes. They call that the 'gold standard testing'. I've said this as far back as 2004, that there are huge loopholes that you can drive an equivelant of a Mack Truck through. the USADA testing is certainly better than what is used in professional sports but it's still relatively easy to beat the test," states Conte, who was also noted for working with baseball slugger Barry Bonds, during his assault on the record book." Now, I don't know in the case of this fight, but the reason is because you're allowed two missed tests and they can't come back the next day because you have to be allowed a hearing to provide your reasonable explanation or the 'exceptional circumstance' as they call it. So they'll just come back the next day and of course none of this is transparent. It's like being up to hit in baseball where you get two strikes and then you smack it out of the park and hit a home run. So it's still relatively easy to beat USADA testing and in this particular case, I do believe you need to have random, unannounced testing. To just say,'I'll be tested on this date', there's all sorts of things you can do with announced testing, you can't do with unannounced testing."
There was a press release put out on behalf of WBO jr. welterweight champion Tim Bradley and his promoter, Gary Shaw, stating that 'the Desert Storm' is willing and able to face either man, should Pacquiao-Mayweather not transpire on March 13th.
And Bradley, will not insist on any 'Olympic-style' testing procedures.
"Absolutely not," he said, laughing at the thought."Everyone knows I'm willing to fight with Manny or Mayweather. I mean, I don't understand what's going on with this whole fight issue. I really don't understand it. It makes no sense to me about all of this drug testing and all of this stuff. The commission handles all of that. They do a great job. Before the fight I take a urine test, they get a urine sample from me. Then after the fight, they take it. After every championship fight they've taken urine samples from me. I end up being negative, all the time. Manny Pacquiao doesn't have a history of using drugs, he's never used drugs, he's never been caught with anything. I don't believe this guy's using drugs. I just think it's his time, right now. Mayweather has never tested positive for anything either and he's done some successful things in his career, also."
In his last outing, Bradley put on a brilliant display of boxing, handing his mandatory challenger, Lamont Peterson, his first professional defeat. He is now looking to take on the sports marquee names.
"As far as facing Manny Pacquiao, we don't need extra drugs tests, Olympic drug tests or whatever they're trying to do," said Bradley on Christmas Eve."Man, let's just do it. Let's do it, I'm game, I'm ready to go. Everybody in boxing knows I'm ready and game and I'll fight anybody in the game, anytime, anyplace, anywhere."
Paulie Malignaggi is now being mentioned as the new opponent to face Manny Pacquiao on March 13th. Which is ironic given that Malignaggi made comments a while back insinuating that Pacquiao was using illegal substances....If that's true, who does Mayweather face next? Perhaps the winner of Mosley-Andre Berto? And if it's Mosley, will he insist on USADA testing for that one?....I'm just wondering if somewhere out there in Dallas if Jerry Jones is having a good laugh over this....Anyone getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas?.....This weeks edition of 'The Main Event' had Dan Goossen and Freddie Roach....Questions or comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org...Twitter.com/stevemaxboxing...